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March 1, 2006

Microsoft to offer instant Vista upgrades

Posted by David Hunter at 9:31 PM ET.

Ed Bott ties together the announced Vista versions with the previously rumored “Anytime Upgrade” plan:

Today at Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report on ZDNet, I listed some of the upgrade scenarios that will be possible when Windows Vista ships. All three consumer versions – Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate – will be included on the same CD or DVD. You don’t need to go to the store and purchase a new shrink-wrapped box to upgrade; all you have to do is go to Control Panel and run the Windows Anytime Upgrade program.

I’ve just installed Windows Home Basic on a test computer here and snapped some screen shots to show what the process looks like.

Hit the link for the screenshots and more details, but it looks like the retail and OEM partners will be tied in to sell the user a product key for an instant upgrade. That would seem to put to rest the originally rumored version of the plan as a way for Microsoft to cut out the partners and get a “direct relationship with corporate customers and consumers.” I can’t really imagine that Microsoft wants to intrude into the messy business of providing support for OEM hardware when the OEMs have been so nicely saddled with it.

That aspect aside, it will be interesting to see how this actually works out. Since more than few OEMs don’t actually provide a OS installation disk, I expect that all versions will be simultaneously loaded on the PCs as shipped and just awaiting a key to be unlocked. There will undoubtedly also be quite a few folks trying to build passkeys.

However, the slick upgrade mechanism also strikes me as the sugar that makes the medicine of all the separate versions go down. Every purchaser of a PC from the major vendors is already faced with a preloaded batch of trial and limited function software that wants an infusion of cash to be enabled. This plan makes the Vista OS look the same way. The consumer buys a low priced machine with Vista Home Basic and is immediately faced with getting out his credit card if he wants to do some of that cool Vista stuff he has heard about, but wasn’t perspicacious enough to discover he couldn’t with the standard configuration. As I said above, it will be interesting to see how this actually works out.

Filed under General Business, Licensing, Marketing, OS - Client, Windows Vista

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3 Responses to “Microsoft to offer instant Vista upgrades”

  1. Microsoft News Tracker » Dog bites man: Microsoft plans huge Vista PR blitz Says:

    [...] It would be easier to judge the likelihood of all this if we knew the exact pricing (including volume pricing) for the different Vista flavors and the exact hardware requirements for the advanced features like the Aero UI. Just try telling Oprah about all the cheapie machines that either can’t run all the spiffy new UI features or can, but require that the customer fork over some additional loot for an instant upgrade once they get the PC home, out of the box, and connected to the Internet. [...]

  2. Amazon leaks US Vista prices and availability -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] My take is that only diehard geeks are going to be doing upgrades from XP or even buying retail copies of Vista. Everyone else will get it with their next PC and may end up getting the premium versions with the Anytime Upgrade so what really matters in the consumer space are the OEM prices and the Anytime Upgrade prices. For large businesses of course, the volume purchase prices are what are important. If we wildly assume that all these unknown Vista prices will bear the same relationship to XP prices as the retail prices do, then it doesn’t look like much of a change except that the days of cheap Media Center systems seem to be over since they have been replaced by the pricey Vista Ultimate. [...]

  3. Microsoft plans single Vista DVD to snag upgrades -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] As had been expected (see also [1]), Microsoft confirmed plans to ship all consumer versions of Vista on a single DVD all the better to enable “Windows Anytime Upgrades” to premium versions: “The edition of Windows Vista that the customer chooses will then be activated by the product key,” Mike Burk, public relations manager for Windows Marketing Communications, said in an emailed statement. [...]

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